Do you know what to look for in a drill press? The investment you make in this tool can be substantial, so making the right choice is important.
After thoroughly testing a wide range of drill presses, we’ve prepared this list of the best performers. Although we’ve made our choice for the best overall, we’re first going to recommend some models based on specific applications and other criteria. We’ll even be rating different popular brand names.
Don’t go tool shopping in the dark. We’ve done the research. Let it help you select the right tool for your purposes and budget.
In a hurry? We understand.
While we highly recommend checking out our reviews, here are the shortcuts to our number one drill press choices in each category. To see our top overall pick, jump to the last section of the article.
Top Choices For Your Money
|Buy on Amazon
|Buy on Amazon
Shop Fox W1848
|Buy on Amazon
|Buy on Amazon
|Buy on Amazon
|Buy on Amazon
|Buy on Amazon
|Buy on Amazon
|Buy on Amazon
How to Choose the Best Drill Press for Your Needs
Whether you’re a professional woodworker, metal fabricator or a backyard “do-it-yourselfer”, a drill press can be a great investment. The question is, how do you make sure you’re investing in the right one?
Like any important decision, the right answer is a matter of several factors:
What do you need a drill press for?
If you have trouble answering that question, you might want to consider a general-purpose machine. If something more specific comes to mind, you should probably look for more specific features.
For instance, some drill presses are ideal for metal work, while others have features more appropriate for woodworking. If you’re a jewelry or model maker, a big, bulky machine will be hard to work with and a waste of money.
Drill Press Size
Swing, throat, and capacity: When you see a drill press listed with a size in inches, “12” Drill Press”, for example, that’s a reference to the capacity, or “swing”. It’s important to realize what that means.
Swing (capacity) = throat x 2.
Throat = the distance from the column to the center of the spindle.
So, a 12” drill press will drill to the center of a circle 12” wide. That’s how you determine the size that meets your needs.
There are a few more questions you should ask yourself before you choose:
How much space do I have? This should help you decide between a bench model or a floor model.
What kind of electric service is available? Your garage or home shop may or may not support some drill presses. Be sure you know the voltage and current rating in amps of the service outlet for your drill press.
How much you have to invest obviously has a lot to do with the tool you’ll purchase. That’s one very good reason to read this article. Among other things, we’ve listed several drill presses at prices that will fit almost anyone’s budget.
Our Top Drill Presses Reviewed by Purpose
If you know what you need to do with your drill press, check this list first. These are our top picks according to how and where they’ll be used.
Best Benchtop Drill Press
Limited space doesn’t have to limit your projects. The WEN 4214 12” drill press is an ideal solution for tackling big jobs without a lot of room.
One of the features that sets this tool apart is a transmission with infinitely variable speed. You won’t find that in many drill presses that don’t have really big price tags.
That’s far from the only reason for this pick. This workhorse has lots of other features, some of which you won’t find in your average drill press:
- Digital LED speed display
- Adjustable table roller extension included
- Locking depth stop
- 5/8” keyed chuck
- 3-1/8” spindle travel
- X-pattern laser guide
There’s more to love:
Not only is it easy to operate (you adjust the speed while it’s running), but it packs plenty of “oomph” in that compact frame. A ball-bearing induction motor develops 2/3HP. That’s enough to bore through heavy cast iron with a 5/8” bit.
Speed is adjustable from 580 to 3,200RPM. The table tilts 45 degrees in either direction. WEN even includes the tools you need to assemble it!
We think this little benchtop drill press is the real deal.
Best Floor Drill Press
Got some serious drilling to do? With the JET 354170 in your shop, you’ll be ready for it.
Monster projects call for torque and this drill press delivers it with a 120/240V, 1-1/2HP motor! With all that power behind it, Jet supplies this one with a 3/4” chuck to let you bring out the BIG bits.
Spindle adjustments give you 12 speeds from 150-4,200RPM, so it will take on just about any type of stock you can throw at it. With its quick-release, tilting and rotating work table, you can manage that stock in just about any position.
Did we forget to mention capacity?
A 20” capacity lets this floor drill in the center of 20” wide material. If you’ve got to reach out farther than that, you’re probably going to need a radial or industrial model.
This isn’t JET’s largest or most expensive drill press – not by a long shot. For the average contractor or homeowner though, it’s about as big as you should ever need. It does require manual speed changes, but it’s comparatively inexpensive, too.
You’ll have a tough time finding a project this drill press won’t handle.
Best Drill Press for Woodworking
Choosing the best drill press just for woodworking wasn’t an easy job. In the final round, we based our choice on a unique feature that will be a valuable addition to any wood shop.
The Shop Fox W1848 can quickly and toollessly be converted to an oscillating spindle sander. This type of sanding leaves a smoother finish on your workpiece due to reduced heat buildup. We can’t imagine why any woodsmith wouldn’t want this dual-purpose tool in the shop!
Shop Fox offers smaller, benchtop models of this drill press, but we think the added capacity and stability make the floor model a better choice. Finishing operations can be tedious and the 63″ height of this machine will be a back saver.
In drilling mode, it’s as full-featured as you’d expect. It’s driven by a 120V, 3/4HP motor. The 12-speed transmission spins the 5/8″ chuck at 250-3,050RPM. There’s enough reach for common drilling jobs, with 13-1/4″ of swing.
The drill press comes with sanding drums and a 2″ dust port on the tilting table.
Why not get the benefits of two woodworking tools in one with this drill press?
Best Drill Press for Metal Work
Were you expecting to see a magnetic drill press in this spot? If so, you should know that in making this choice, we considered all types of metal, including non-ferrous materials like aluminum or brass. With that in mind, we chose the WEN 4227.
Working with a wide range of metals requires a few things:
- A wide speed range
- Constant torque
If your setup can’t meet those requirements, you’re going to end up with burned bits, galled flutes/teeth and a lot of frustration.
This floor drill press meets those criteria and more. You can select 12 speeds from 180 to 2,940RPM. A 13-amp, 120V induction motor provides plenty of smooth power.
But what about that third item?
This drill press comes with an important extra: A fluid collection channel around the edge of the table. If you’ve ever stood in a puddle of oil on a shop floor, you’ll understand the value of that feature.
The 4227 also gives you:
- 17″ of swing
- 5/8″ chuck
- 4-3/4″ quill stroke
- Depth gauge
- Pivoting work table (90 degrees left or right)
- X-shaped laser guide
- Work light
This one was our choice in another category, too. We like it that much!
Best Magnetic Drill Press
For steel fabrication applications, magnetic drill presses are often the go-to power tool. The Hougen HMD904 is our top choice in this category because it’s a practical tool for your home shop as well as for production work.
The drill press operates on 120V. The kit includes a chuck and adapter that allows you to use twist drills as well as specialized cutters. It’s also lighter in weight (28.9lb) than many comparable models.
It’s not just a good choice for backyard shops, though. The HMD904 is designed to stand up to the rigors of production work, too.
The 450RPM motor is rated at 9A. A 5/8″ slot drive arbor is solid and accurate while allowing for quick cutter changes. The tool accepts cutters from 7/16″ to 1-1/2″ and has a 2″ depth of cut. It also has a long list of safety features.
A unique, 2-stage magnet provides a 30% increase in holding power when the motor is activated. This reduces power consumption and facilitates easier adjustments prior to starting the work.
The kit includes a coolant bottle, cutter/drill assortment, and chain.
We think you’ll want to check this one out.
Best Small Drill Press
This miniature drill press proves that “small” doesn’t mean “inadequate”. The Microlux Mini Hobby Drill Press is a precision tool intended for serious small project work.
This benchtop machine lets you dial in constantly variable speeds in two ranges:
- Low: 0 to 3,600RPM
- High: 0 to 5,000RPM
The wide speed range means you can work plastic without melting it and avoid chipping in wood. You can also set the right speed for fast, clean drilling through various metals.
Pulse Width Modulation maintains constant torque throughout the entire speed range.
A zeroing, digital depth finder lets you set your depth electronically with an LCD readout for precise, repeatable depth. There’s a sliding fence included, too, so you can maintain perfect hole alignment.
The ball bearing spindle has a maximum travel of 1 – 9/16″. That should be enough to get through just about anything a small project demands.
The headstock and base are made of cast iron for durability and stable weight. A steel column prevents flexing.
This drill press is ideal for custom electronics, jewelry, models or any small-scale projects. It will give you the precise control and repeatable performance to give those jobs a professional touch.
Best Radial Drill Press
The Shop Fox W1669 delivers big performance in a bench top size package. It’s also reasonably priced, which helps make it our top-rated radial drill press.
The arm gives you a full 17″ of swing. Because the headstock pivots within the slide collar, you can angle the spindle for angle drilling or horizontal boring. Combined with the tilting table, almost any angle is possible.
Because you can lock the slide at any point, drilling rows of holes don’t require moving your workpiece. You can even drill rows of angled holes.
The 1/2HP, 120V motor drives a 5-speed transmission with a range of 550 – 3,470RPM. Spindle travel is 3-1/4″ and of course there’s a threaded depth stop for repetitive work.
A big, easy to find paddle switch features a removable lock-out key for safety.
This tough little bench top radial drill press is priced less than most at just over $300. With all of these features, it’s a great value for your hard-earned dollars.
Best Drill Press by Brand
We know that many of our readers trust specific brand names. With that in mind, here are our top choices in drill presses from some of the most well-known manufacturers:
Delta has been a household name in power tools for decades. Their 18-900L is a
workhorse that upholds that reputation.
This 18”, 16-speed belt-drive floor drill press is a serious piece of machinery. It gives you plenty of space for the big stuff and all the features you need to get the job done right.
With a 6” stroke, it lets you drill deeper than anything else in its class. A 3/4HP, 120V motor provides plenty of power to the 5/8” chuck. The 20” x 14” tilting table puts your work right where it needs to be and has slots for accessories to keep it there.
This beast has finesse, too. Micro-adjustable depth stops and a movable scale ensure accuracy and repeatability. Adjustable twin lasers project a bright cross-hair target to eliminate guesswork. It even comes with a built-in, flexible LED work light.
Speed changes are quick and easy, thanks to the self-tensioning, dual belt transmission. You can select speeds of 170 – 3,000RPM in 16 steps.
If you’re looking for a beefy, all-around drill press with just enough extras to maximize your productivity, take a good look at this one. There is one caveat: speed changes involve moving belts.
Here’s another powerhouse from a manufacturer that’s been in the business for a long time. The WEN 4227 is a 17”, 12-speed, free-standing drill press with the power to spare.
A 120V, 13-Amp motor powers a 3-spindle transmission that allows you to switch belts to select 12 speeds ranging from 180 to 2,940RPM. That makes it one of the most versatile on our list.
180 to 2,940RPM. That makes it one of the most versatile on our list.
This drill press includes some nice features, too:
- 14” x 14” cast iron work table
- Table tilts up to 45 degrees left or right
- 1” runoff channel to contain coolant
- 26” maximum table to chuck distance
- 4-3/4” stroke (drills through 4 x 4’s)
- 5/8” chuck
- Attached gooseneck work light
- X- shaped laser alignment
- Heavy cast iron base
- Ball-bearing motor
The 4227 is designed with both safety and convenience in mind, with a locking switch and onboard storage for the chuck key.
Ample power and capacity make this one of WEN’s top models in our books. Although speeds have to be set manually, it makes up for that in versatility. Whether you’re working with wood, metal, plastics or other materials, drilling, milling or mortising, this tough, general-purpose drill press should do the job nicely.
If you know the Grizzly brand, then we don’t have to tell you that they make some awesome full-size drill presses. You might also be surprised to see that we’ve picked a bench-top model as our top pick for this brand.
Here’s the thing:
The Grizzly G7945 packs
big-tool capacity into a bench-sized platform. One of the most significant reasons or that is the radial arm.
Because the arm lets you move the drill head out as far as 17” from the column, you get more than double the capacity of fixed-head bench models. You can also lock the arm travel at any point in between.
The arm swivels 360 degrees, so you can work on larger stock placed on the bench or floor. The head rotates on the vertical axis, to give you more versatile angle drilling. The table, of course, tilts, too – 90 degrees to the left or right.
Add the 5/8” chuck, 3-1/4” of spindle travel and 5 speeds and we think you’ll see why we chose this one. The motor develops 1/2HP to handle most projects.
When it comes to industrial strength combined with a quick and easy operation,, JET drill presses set the benchmark. The J-A5818 gives you the power to punch through the tough projects and the features you need to get them done easily.
It’s a 15” capacity drill press with a full 6” of stroke. The big, crank-adjusted table drops far enough to handle the big stuff.
One of the best features of this model is the reduction gear-driven variable speed. Just turn the hand wheel and watch the digital display to set it anywhere from 400 to 5,000RPM. You can fine-tune your speed to suit any material.
An easily accessible stop lets you match the depth consistently for repetitive drilling. A 2-1/4” quill provides accuracy and the hefty, 3” column minimizes flex and vibration.
The power to drive it all is provided by a 230/460V, 3-phase, 1HP motor, so it’s equally at home in both a garage and a fabrication shop. We think that kind of dual personality is a great quality.
This drill press will set you back a bit more financially than some, but if you need real power and the versatility of variable speed, you just might find it’s worth it.
When it comes to reasonably-priced but rugged power tools, SKIL is one of the most trusted brands around. They’ve been building tools for both contractors and hobbyists long enough that everyone knows the name.
The SKIL 3320-01 bench top drill press is a perfect example of the kind of affordable, yet powerful tools that their reputation is built on. It delivers what you need to tackle light to moderately heavy jobs with a price tag that even a novice won’t mind paying.
The 10” capacity takes on just about any standard lumber. Thanks to a 5-speed transmission, the 120V, 3.2A motor can deliver speeds from 750-3,050RPM to handle a wide range of materials.
Precise, repetitive production isn’t a problem. You’ll have the same features as the “big guys”. The depth stop, two-beam laser guide and 45 degrees of table tilt help you get it right the first time and every time.
We highly recommend this drill press for a novice to intermediate woodworkers. It’s also a great choice for light metalworking and any area with limited space.
Drill Press Reviews By Price/Budget:
Do you have budget constraints?
The amount of money you can invest in a drill press is astounding. We’ve researched the field carefully and selected the best value for several price ranges. You’ll find the right one for your budget listed below.
A tight budget doesn’t have to mean settling for poor quality. The WEN 4210 delivers all the performance of a big press in a benchtop machine`.
From the cast iron frame to the 45-degree tilting, crank-adjusted table, the build quality shows. A 2/3HP, 120V motor powers a 5-speed transmission to deliver 600 – 3,100RPM.
With its 5/8” chuck, 10” swing and 2-1/2” stroke, this tool pack a lot of drilling power into a small package. It delivers it at a cost of less than $150.
The WEN 4227 was listed above as our top choice for metal working, partly because of its reasonable price. We’ve chosen it as the best in this class as well, because of its unique, mechanical variable speed and a host of other features:
- 580 – 3,200RPM (infinitely variable)
- LED Speed display
- Tilting table with roller extension
- 12” capacity
- 3-1/8” Spindle travel with depth stop
- 2/3 HP, 120V motor
- Laser guide
At just over $225.00, we think this is a steal.
A feature-packed, 14” floor drill press in this price range is a rare find, but find it we did. This beauty from Klutch will fit the needs of just about any layman or professional.
It packs a 1HP, 120V motor and 12-speed powertrain that delivers speeds from 340-2,860RPM. A 5/8” chuck gives it a drilling capacity of 1-1/4”. It drills deep, too, with a 3-1/4” stroke.
An ample, 45-degree tilting table, flexible LED work light, chuck key storage and a depth stop round out the features. This is a lot of tool for $399!
Our pick for the under $5,000 category is the JET J-A2608-4 20-inch Gear Head Drill Press.
When you need extreme torque at low speed, this is the beast you’re looking for. This tool handles tough tasks like chamfering, reaming and counterboring with professional power and precision.
Helical gears deliver smooth, quiet performance at eight selectable spindle speeds. The driving force is provided by a 440V, 3-phase motor.
The massive table features two T-slots as well as a coolant through to prevent waste and dangerous spills. Bit changes are easy with the quick-release ejector. For safety’s sake, a safety latch keeps the head from dropping when the clamp is released.
This drill press delivers all of the above and requires less frequent maintenance than other types. If you need power, durability and comparatively low cost, you’ll want to give this one a look.
Our top pick in this price range is a 20” capacity workhorse that will handle the toughest metal working tasks in your home shop or on the production floor. It’s sort of a self-contained metal shop.
The JET 354210/JDP-20EVS runs on a 230V, 2HP, 3-phase motor. That’s coupled to a gearhead with an incredible speed range of 65 – 2,000RPM. What’s more, speed is electronically variable with an LED readout on the panel.
With that kind of power and control, you can drill, ream, countersink, mill, polish and even tap. In fact, there’s a tapping mode with one-touch reverse.
One of the best features of this drill press is a built-in coolant system, including:
- Flexible, precision feed tube
- Trough and drain in the table
- Collection well and pump in the base
Everything about this machine is solid, from the hardened chrome molybdenum gears to the cast iron cable and base. It’s also safe, thanks to an over-sized emergency stop button.
For lower-powered shops, the motor can be run in single-phase mode.
This drill press would have been our first choice for Best Drill Press for Metal Work, if not for the higher-than-average cost. Nevertheless, if it fits your budget, we highly recommend it.
Nevertheless, if it fits your budget, we highly recommend it.
We’ve covered a lot of great tools in this article and the final choice was a tough one. We made our decision, however, and our top pick in drill presses for your money is the JET 354170/JDP-20MF.
With a massive, 20” capacity, a 3/4” chuck and a 12-speed transmission, this floor model will handle almost any material. A 1-1/2HP, 112V/240V motor provides more than enough power, with two supply outlet options.
This machine will drill cast iron up to 1” thick or mild steel up to 3/4”. With a speed range of 150 to 4,200RPM, it will also handle wood, plastics, and non-ferrous metals with precision and finesse.
The 18-1/2” by 16” work table is one of the largest available. It also supports up to 80 pounds and adjusts to accommodate almost 30” of material.
Whether you’re an expert craftsman or a beginner, this drill press is one that will meet your needs and grow with your experience.
Buy it now and keep it for a lifetime!
To return to The Toolsy’s homepage, visit here.